Take Home Food / Food Pantries
After School Meal Programs
Brown Bag Food Programs
Brown Bag Food ProgramsPrograms offered by senior centers or other community organizations, generally outside the food pantry network, that pack shopping bags (or other containers) with a supply of nutritional donated and surplus food for distribution to low-income individuals or families, students or older adults to supplement their meals at home.
Commodity Supplemental Food Program
Emergency Food Clearinghouses
Farmers Markets Accepting Nutrition Program Vouchers
Farmers Markets Accepting Nutrition Program VouchersFarmers market sites that allow certified WIC recipients and qualifying low income seniors to pay for fresh, unprepared, locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs using coupons provided by the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP). The coupons can be used to buy eligible foods from designated farmers markets, roadside stands and community supported agriculture (CSA) programs approved to accept the coupons by the state agency overseeing the program (generally the State Department of Agriculture or Aging).
Food PantriesPrograms that acquire food products through donations, canned food drives, food bank programs or direct purchase and distribute the food to people who are in emergency situations. Some pantries deliver food to people whose disabilities or illnesses make it difficult for them to leave home.
Formula/Baby FoodPrograms that supply infant formula and/or baby food, usually in addition to other groceries.
Sit Down Meals
After School Meal Programs
Community MealsPrograms that organizes suppers, lunches or other get-togethers that give community residents an opportunity to meet one another in a friendly and informal atmosphere while sharing a meal. Community meals are generally sponsored by churches, libraries and other local community organizations and coordinated by volunteers.
Congregate Meals/Nutrition Sites
Congregate Meals/Nutrition SitesPrograms that provide hot meals on a regular basis primarily for older adults who may be at risk for nutritional deficits and social isolation without assistance. Congregate meals are often combined with recreational, educational and social activities, and programs may include access to health services and/or information. Some programs are also open to caregivers, spouses and/or adults with disabilities.
Soup KitchensPrograms offered by churches, restaurants and other organizations that provide meals in a central location for people who lack the resources needed to buy and prepare food. The food may be distributed to people who line up for the meal or may be served to people seated in a dining hall setting, and participants rarely need to establish eligibility for the service.
Summer Food Service Programs
Summer Food Service ProgramsPrograms that operate during the summer when school is not in session and provide congregate nutritional meals (breakfasts, snacks, lunches and/or dinners) for children and youth. Summer food service programs are generally available to youth age 18 and younger who live in designated low-income areas; and may be federally-funded or funded by other entities.
Home Delivered Meals
Home Delivered Meals
Home Delivered MealsPrograms that prepare and regularly deliver meals to older adults, people with disabilities and others who have difficulties shopping and/or preparing food for themselves or traveling to a site where a meal is being served.
Benefits ScreeningPrograms that provide benefits screening services which help individuals determine whether they are eligible for benefits through any of a wide variety of public and private federal, state and local programs. In addition to identifying the programs that a person may be eligible to receive, the service generally also provides a detailed description of the programs, local contacts for additional information (typically the addresses and phone numbers of where to apply for the programs), and materials to help successfully apply for each program. Included are programs that provide this service online and those that do benefits screening via the telephone or in-person. Some benefits screening programs may focus on specific populations such as older adults and people with disabilities; or specific aspects of benefits eligibility such as the impact that working will have on their benefits as an aid to helping people make informed decisions regarding whether to work. Also included are programs that help people complete the benefits screening form.
Food Stamps/SNAPA federally-funded program administered locally by the county or the state that enables low-income and indigent households to obtain an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card similar to a bank debit card which can be used in most grocery stores to purchase food. Approved households are entitled to purchase a designated amount of food utilizing their cards based on net income and household size. Benefits are generally available in an EBT account within 30 days from the date an application was filed. Expedited food stamps are available within seven days for people who are in an emergency situation and whose income and spendable resources for that month are within specified limits.
Food VouchersPrograms that supply food coupons which can be exchanged in designated grocery stores, supermarkets and/or farmers markets for food products. The vouchers are generally provided to low income individuals and families on an occasional or ongoing basis, but may also be available to other specified populations; and may be issued in paper or electronic formats.
WICA public health nutrition program administered by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service that provides nutrition education, nutritious foods, breastfeeding support and health care referrals for income-eligible pregnant or postpartum women, infants and children up to age five. Foster parents, grandparents, guardians and single fathers who have custody of their children may also be eligible to receive food assistance for children up to age five if they meet income guidelines. WIC provides specific foods to supplement the dietary needs of participants to ensure good health and development. Food packages typically include iron-fortified infant cereal, milk, cheese, eggs, whole grains, peanut butter, beans, fruits, vegetables and juice. Families can shop for WIC foods at most grocery stores using a WIC electronic transfer benefit (EBT) card or vouchers.
Christmas BasketsPrograms, generally supported by donations from the community, that attempt to facilitate enjoyment of the Christmas season by low-income community residents through distribution of food baskets which usually contain a ham, turkey or other meat and all of the trimmings for a Christmas dinner (or vouchers to purchase these items) and occasionally gifts for children or other family members.
Christmas MealsPrograms that provide a hot Christmas meal in a congregate setting for low-income and homeless individuals and families who might otherwise have no opportunity to celebrate the holidays. Also included are programs that deliver Christmas meals to people's homes.
Thanksgiving BasketsPrograms, generally supported by donations from the community, that attempt to facilitate enjoyment of Thanksgiving by low-income community residents through distribution of food baskets which usually contain a ham, turkey or other meat and all of the trimmings for a Thanksgiving dinner (or vouchers to purchase these items).
Thanksgiving MealsPrograms that provide a hot Thanksgiving meal in a congregate setting for low-income and homeless individuals and families who might otherwise have no opportunity to celebrate the holiday. Also included are programs that deliver Thanksgiving meals to people's homes.
Programs / Classes for Healthy Eating
Nutrition EducationPrograms that provide information concerning the basic principles of healthful eating, food handling, food preparation and shopping skills. Included is information about the basic food groups, vitamin and mineral requirements, the relationship of nutrition to the preservation of good health and the prevention of illness, and dietary choices such as vegetarianism.
Miscellaneous Food Needs
Community GardeningPrograms that provide plots of land on which groups of people living in a neighborhood can grow fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers. Community gardens provide access to fresh produce and plants; may be located in parks, schools, hospital grounds or other open areas; and may be nurtured communally and the bounty shared, have individual plots for personal use, or be dedicated to "urban agriculture" where produce is grown for a market. Some have raised beds that are accessible to people with disabilities. The gardens provide an opportunity for participants to savor the freshness, flavor and wholesomeness of home-grown produce; save money on their food bills; grow traditional foods not available in the supermarket; or simply get some exercise and enjoy the benefits of being outdoors. They also support a community's food security, contribute to the preservation of open space, strengthen community bonds, provide a sense of connection to the environment and offer opportunities for community education.
Food Banks/Food Distribution Warehouses
Food Banks/Food Distribution WarehousesPrograms that gather, sort, store and distribute to participating charitable agencies, surplus food products and edible but unmarketable food that has been acquired from growers, grocers and other sources. Also included are the supermarket chains, food manufacturers, wholesalers, restaurant suppliers, agencies that organize food drives, government departments (e.g., the USDA) and other organizations that donate food on a regular basis to food banks and/or directly to food pantries, meal programs, homeless shelters and other human service agencies with food programs.
Food Donation Programs